Computing stuff tied to the physical world

Making software choices

In Musings on Sep 2, 2013 at 00:01

If there were just one video in the field of software and technology which I’ve watched this summer and would really like to recommend, then it’s this one from about a year ago:

Brian Ford: Is Node.js Better?

It’s 40 minutes long. It’s a presentation by Brian Ford, who has earned his marks in the Ruby world (not to be confused with another Brian Ford from the Angular.js community). He gets on stage at JSConf US 2012, a major conference on JavaScript and Node.js, and spends almost half an hour talking about everything but JavaScript.

At the end, he voices some serious concerns about Node.js in the high-end networking arena w.r.t. its single event-loop without threading, and how the Ruby community hit that wall long ago and made different choices. Interesting, also on a technical level.

But this is not really about language X vs language Y (yawn) – it’s about how we make choices in technology. No doubt your time is limited, and you may not even be interested in Node.js or Ruby, but all I can say is: it made me re-evaluate my positions and convictions, taught me about the power of honest argumentation, and got me to read that brilliant book by Daniel Kahneman, titled Thinking ,Fast and Slow (heavy read – I’m halfway).

Elevating stuff…

  1. This was an interesting video. It basically combined the courses in cognitive psychology and concurrency I took some time ago.

  2. Python community hit that stuff even before Ruby did: asyncore is in standard library for 15 years, after getting critical acclaim of 1990ies. Out of which Twisted was born which accumulated amount of functionality which I’m sure Node.js still didn’t surpass. Of course, with all the coolness, obvious problems came out: it’s hard to write properly in such paradigm, so, what many people write, come out bad. And while there’re big projects written in Twisted (e.g. launchpad.net), nobody in big world (one which is not confined to Visual Basic or JavaScript) treats that paradigm as panacea, just as a niche technique.

    • FWIW, I suspect that Tcl’s built-in “fileevent” predates Python Twisted extension.

      Lots of stuff gets re-mixed.

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